Celebrities on social media — Is brand fatigue creeping in?

If we are to continue this relationship on Instagram, then I must lay bare my rules of engagement,” wrote Zeenat Aman recently, on her Instagram account.

The former actor — popularly called Zeenie baby — has been a hit on Insta since February, with her unique blend of honesty, authentic home truths and storytelling. As Karan Johar put it,‘Zeenat Aman is everything Instagram is not’. But I think she’s in a tricky territory and things are going to get worse. This is just the beginning of trolling by people who want to accept ‘celebrity influencers’ on their terms, and not the celeb’s. I think Zeenat is beginning to understand the nature of the beast called social media… just like Twinkle Khanna did a few years ago.

Does anyone remember Twinkle? She was all over the place in pre-Reels days, massive Twitter and Insta following, but now she’s almost gone off the radar (see Google Trends graph). She’s still got the numbers, but doesn’t translate into anything. Certainly not more sales for her books — though am told they are eminently readable.

So what I’m saying is this: Zeenat Aman creates great content, we love it, but it’s not connecting beyond nostalgia — for an older audience that is. I think Brand Zeenat is in trouble. Yes, there will be some advertising deals thanks to new age Insta-friendly brands (Cred has signed her on), but I see brand tiredness on the horizon.

Remember Rajiv Makhni? The Gadget Guru guy is still around and creating great videos as Tech Makhnified, but, sorry, I’d rather be one of the 23 million watching Technical Guruji — Gaurav Chaudhary.

Brand fatigue is also creeping up on Virat Kohli, Rahul Dravid and a bunch of superstars who were top draw just a couple of years back. Why? Here are some reasons why the sun sets on celebs on social media.

Rigid content: If a celebrity’s content is too rigid and fixed, not moving/reflecting current trends or interests of their followers, they are going downhill.

Too much ‘Me First’ content: When content is too lifestyle-ish, too show-offy, too self-indulgent, it’s a warning sign. You are alienating followers.

Controversies: Nobody likes controversies, never mind who’s in the right or wrong.

Over-saturation: Overexposure can sometimes lead to a saturation point. I think that’s what happened to Sachin — I don’t see his content being shared too much these days.

Power shift: The social media highway is littered with bodies of celebs who shifted careers, transited from X to Y and then to Z.

Platform changes: Twinkle Khanna never made it to Reels-land. Her witty asides have little place for newer audiences. Also, younger generations might not be as familiar with older celebrities like Zeenat.

Algorithm: Changes in social media algorithms can impact a celebrity’s visibility. It is a bit tricky, but good content may not align with algorithm’s preferences and posts might not appear in followers’ feeds.

I can’t sign off without mentioning Beer Biceps aka Ranveer Allahbadia. I think he’s got it just right, connecting with the aspirations of the new YouTube generation. He will get some flack on his recent political interviews, but he will survive and get even more popular.

(Shubho Sengupta is a digital marketer with an analogue ad agency past. He can be found @shubhos)

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